The staff warned the woman not to approach the wild animal, but she wouldn’t listen. Her adventurous spirit was stronger than anyone’s advice. Everyone thought she was young and restless and didn’t know what she was doing.
She slowly got closer to the cheetah under everyone’s worried eyes. When they saw how the cheetah reacted, the staff knew they had to do something.
Heather Chuki is a 23-year-old volunteer from Beckonham who went to South Africa to work with non-profit organizations that handle big cats. Since she was a child, her two big passions were ballet and helping others.
She was well-known in her community for acts of kindness. When she got older, she wanted to travel to places that needed her help, so she ended up at an animal sanctuary in South Africa. Heather was excited about her new beginning, but nothing could prepare her for what would happen at the sanctuary.
Cheetah Experience is an animal sanctuary in South Africa that handles cheetahs. Many end up in their hands due to problems in their habitat or injuries.
The staff there welcomed Heather with open arms as they needed as many helping hands as they could get. They had no idea at the time what this meant for the sanctuary’s future.
Heather volunteered in South Africa since she was 18 years old. After a few years, she ended up at the Cheetah Experience animal sanctuary. She loved the place, and it felt like home to her.
During this period, she didn’t have much time to continue with ballet. But she still missed it a lot. The work she was doing for the animals was more important, though, and she was happy to compromise. But could she stay far from one of her life’s biggest passions?
Heather took a liking to two cheetahs from the sanctuary. They were the shyest and always hid when a human approached their cage. The two Cheetahs were called Dew and Eden, and they were brought together to the sanctuary.
Heather didn’t plan on giving up, and she wanted to make the two animals feel more comfortable. Would she make it? Or would she just put herself in danger?
Heather spent more and more time with the cheetahs. The animals were slowly getting used to her presence but were still very reserved in their movement. She wasn’t planning on giving up anytime soon, though.
Just as the young woman was getting closer to her goal, she received the most disturbing news from the sanctuary staff.
However much they loved the felines in their care, Cheetah Experience does not own all the animals in their care. To the dismay of the organization and volunteers, the owner of four Cheetahs wanted to sell them to the highest bidder.
The animals’ fate was uncertain, and Dew and Eden were among the four animals for sale as well. Heather knew she had to do something, and she had to do it fast.
Heather and the staff were trying to devise a plan to save the four cheetahs. She didn’t want to imagine what would happen to them if they were sold.
The young woman managed to raise over £5000 to save her cat duo through donations sent to her by a JustGiving webpage. She was still worried, though. What could she do to save all four of them?
While two of the other Cheetahs were saved by Heather’s initiative, the others were saved when Cheetah Experience owner Rihanna Van Neuron collected enough funds to keep them. They were loved and cared for so much it would have broken their hearts for these cheetahs to end up in the wrong hands.
The fundraising page was flooded with donations and shares on social media, and the volunteers were able to raise the money within just 30 days. This saved the cheetahs from their unknown fate.
After hearing the good news, Heather knew the best way to celebrate was with her two favorite cheetahs. She was so happy, she couldn’t contain herself.
She wanted to get even closer to the animals. Heather’s decision left everyone speechless. The other volunteers tried to change her mind, but she wouldn’t budge. The young woman was about to do something incredibly reckless.
Heather was ready. She opened the door to her favorite two cheetahs’ enclosure and entered slowly. Everyone was watching, worried about what was about to happen.
“Don’t worry. They’re my friends,” Heather said to the staff. Then she did something amazing. She began to slowly dance ballet in front of the two animals. The cheetahs didn’t move a muscle. They were mesmerized. Heather continued to slow dance while being watched by her two animal friends. Would they attack her, though? Was she in danger after all?
They didn’t. The cheetahs only approached the young woman slowly, curious about what she was doing. She stopped and got closer to the animals.
The two cheetahs were still a little shy, but Heather didn’t back down. She managed to pet them, and the animals started licking her hand. All the volunteers were baffled. They didn’t know how to react.
Heather became so close to the two cheetahs that they soon were inseparable. She would cuddle with them, and the animals would give her kisses.
The woman and the animals were like best friends. Every time they saw each other, it was pure joy. All the volunteers were happy the animals were in good hands and being cared for with the utmost passion.
Heather took it even farther than that. Their bond became so strong that the woman would sleep at night in their enclosure. This was her favorite thing to do in the whole world. Heather would take her blanket and pillow to a spot under the trees, lie down and wait for them to come over and cuddle in for the night under the stars.
When the sunrise came, the roar of the lions nearby would wake them up, and the cheetahs would greet the woman good morning with more kisses.
Heather kept returning to Cheetah Experience to volunteer after developing a bond with the animals there. To have the strongest of bonds between a wild animal and a human is amazing.
Heather said that it’s such a different bond to those you have with your pet dog or cat at home. She is grateful for her connection. Heather knows it’s so rare and special to spend time with those animals.